Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad

By LAWI WENG Monday, February 2, 2009


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will talk to 66 Rohingya boat people on Tuesday, after a Thai court convicted them of illegally entering the country, a UNHCR spokesperson said on Monday.

The UNHCR was granted access to 12 teenagers from a group of 78 Rohingya detained last week.

Kitty McKinsey, the regional spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Asia, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the UNHCR will meet members of the group to determine if some want to seek political asylum in Thailand.

The Thai-English newspaper Bangkok Post reported on Monday that the Thai Defense Ministry permanent secretary Gen Aphichart Penkitti told that the UNHCR and Thailand should devise ways to work together on the Rohingya issue.

The Thai government and the UNHCR might work together to resolve issues of political asylum requests, McKinsey said.

The latest batch of detained Rohingya arrived in Thailand with claims that they were beaten and tortured by the Burmese army after their boat was intercepted at sea by the Burmese navy. Many had wounds on their backs and were treated at a hospital in southern Thailand. Other Rohingyas are believed to have perished at sea.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim ethnic minority who face harsh treatment by Burmese authorities. They are prohibited from travelling outside Arakan State and are further marginalized by other discriminatory laws imposed by the military regime.

The Burmese regime maintains that Rohingya are not part of the 100 ethnic groups in Burma.

Last week, a Burmese state-run newspaper, Myanmar Ahlin, carried a story that said it will be complicated if Thailand repatriates Rohingya who did not come from Burma, said the report.

The Rohingya issue has created a heated debate among Burmese inside and outside the country. Many Arakanese people and politicians have voiced similar opinions about the provenance of the Rohingya.

Aye Tha Aung, an ethnic Arakanese and a senior member of the Committee for Representing People’s Parliament (CRPP), said the Rohingya are not among the ethnic groups in Burma.

“How could they claim that they came from Burma when in fact they come from Bangladesh,” the Arakanese politician told The Irrawaddy.

Many Burmese proudly claim that Arakan State serves as a wall to prevent an influx of Rohingya and Bangladeshi from migrating deeper inside Burma. Burmese military forces usually push back Rohingya refugees, and there have been reports of indiscriminate killings and human rights violations taking place along the border with Bangladesh.

The regime usually wins the hearts and minds of people in Arakan State whenever they crackdown on Rohingya.

According to Thailand’s English-language daily, Bangkok Post, 4,880 Rohingya were arrested last year for illegally entering Thailand and 90 percent are still waiting to be repatriated.

A rising tide of Rohingya refugees has been fleeing Burma to the neighboring countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Their numbers usually increase after November, when the seas are at their calmest. One hundred Rohingya illegal migrants recently were arrested by Indonesian authorities in Aceh.

Many seek to escape the economic hardship of their restricted lives and turn to brokers to help them find work outside Arakan State.

The World Food Program reported last year that the area faces food shortages. The condition has forced hundreds of Rohingya to depart on the sea in leaky vessels and head for Malaysia, but many end up on Thailand beaches or drown in the stormy waters of the Andaman Sea.

Please read our policy before you post comments. Click here
E-mail:   (Your e-mail will not be published.)
You have characters left.
Word Verification: captcha Type the characters you see in the picture.

more articles in this section